Friday, February 1, 2013

PBA Has YouTube Videos Removed

"So lame. The PBA should be doing all they can to promote the art of bowling, not stifle it. Instead, they have their own paid video subscription service on their website. I'm about as big a bowling fan as you can get, but I will not pay the PBA to have access to their video library." -- YouTube comment

The PBA has purportedly persuaded YouTube to remove one private source's posted videos of all recent televised championships because of copyright infringement. Now I'm the first to admit that I don't know how the copyrighting of televised sports content works. More particularly, I don't know what the legal technicalities happen to be concerning the uploading to YouTube of PBA telecasts carried by ESPN and other networks.

What I do know is that we bowling fans who miss the telecasts or who don't subscribe to cable or who live abroad could almost always find them on YouTube a day or so after the telecast. This suggests that even if it technically violated copyright law to place this content on YouTube without the PBA's consent, the powers-that-be, who were surely aware of what was going on, looked the other way instead of enforcing the law governing this matter.

And it stands to reason that they would. PBA telecasts, unlike movies and music that you buy and watch or listen to any time you wish, are generally shown once only ESPN or on whatever other network they might happen to appear, unless they reappear on an "oldies" channel years afterward. Of course, it's true that a bowling fan devoted enough to fork out the money for a paid subscription to PBA Xtra Frame can watch these telecasts on demand there. But what seems doubtful is that most people who want to see a PBA telecast after it airs are going to subscribe to Xtra Frame in order to watch it there.

So, why did the PBA do this? Did they think that if people can't watch these telecasts on TV when they air, they'll subscribe to Xtra Frame to watch them or that they'll be more motivated to watch them when they air instead of thinking they can always catch them later on YouTube? Or does the PBA plan to post them to YouTube themselves, as they have in the past, and they don't want any competition from private parties? I don't know, even though I'm going to try to find out.

At this point, I don't want to second guess the PBA. They are struggling to prosper in a marketplace filled with diverse competition for the public's time and money, and I don't blame them for doing what they think is best for the cause. I just hope it's wise to deny potential viewers the opportunity to view the telecasts after the fact on YouTube when it seems to me that the PBA wouldn't want to tick people off or reduce the public's exposure to their product. And if it isn't so wise, I hope they reverse course or at least post the videos in question to YouTube themselves via the PBA Channel before too long.

Stay tuned for further developments on this front.


  1. SundaysR4Bowling provided a service to bowlers and did it for the love of the game. Can the PBA say the same? Does the PBA have our best interests at heart?

  2. Matt, from what I know, the PBA is doing everything it can just to survive. Touring pros, despite being highly skilled and dedicated athletes who work very hard to compete and cash against the best bowlers in the world, earn peanuts compared to pros in most other widely and even not so widely recognized sports. So, I can't and don't hold it against the PBA to do what they think is in their best economic interests rather than in the interests of every person who might want to watch on YouTube a previous telecast of one of their championships.

    But, I'd like to know how they think having those videos deleted is going to benefit them financially and whether their reasons are sound. I love bowling. I've been doing it, watching it, and loving it for over five decades, and I've been enthusiastically following the PBA almost since its inception. To borrow from Star Trek's Vulcans, I want them to "live long and prosper."

    But I don't want to see fans needlessly deprived of their opportunities to watch the best bowlers in the world compete on telecasts, and I just hope the PBA's recent actions concerning the YouTube videos in question do not have that effect. In other words, I hope that deprivation is for a good cause, or, if it isn't, that it quickly ceases.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Greetings from Montreal, Canada. I just found your blog today. I absolutely loved watching the PBA tour when I had the ability to do so, but I no longer get the station that airs it. My favourite bowler is Amleto Monacelli, but there are several others I like as well. I miss watching it. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Even though that's my YouTube comment quoted at the top, I'm seriously considering subscribing to Xtra Frame for at least a month to check it out. But not really for the archived telecasts, which is what SundaysR4Bowling provided; I'm much more interested in seeing all the qualifying rounds and match play, which I've never been able to find on YouTube in the first place.

    I still think it should be free, but I know the PBA is struggling right now. Hopefully they can find another way to increase their revenue, or at the very least post these events to their own YouTube channel for everyone to enjoy.

  5. I strongly encourage you to subscribe to Xtra Frame. They're showing USBC Masters qualifying now live. You're right that Xtra Frame offers coverage you could never get anywhere else. Unfortunately, I think they've slipped considerably on the technical analysis at which they used to excel especially when "Bowling Doctor" Jeff Mark worked for them as an analyst. But there is still a lot to see and learn by watching Xtra Frame.

  6. An unfortunate development, but not really any different from other professional sports leagues who don't allow full game content on Youtube. Live in Texas and want to watch the Red Sox every night, you need to subscribe to the MLB network.

    The qustion is, does the PBA tour have the demand other pro sports have, and therefore will policing Youtube and having videos removed be in their (and the pro's) best interest. I think not, but time will tell.

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